Glasgow Apple Store Becomes First in the UK to Unionize

Apple’s battle with unionization attempts has now gone international. Workers at an Apple Store in Glasgow have made history by becoming the first in the U.K. to unionize — reports the Glasgow Times.

According to the publication, the employees filed for Voluntary Union Recognition with Apple after joining labour union GMB Scotland.

Unionization efforts in the U.S. suffered a blow last month after retail employees in Atlanta withdrew their request for a union election. They claimed Apple used illegal union-busting tactics to prevent workers from organizing, which included captive audience meetings where managers delivered anti-union talking points.

However, the campaign at the Cumberland Mall Apple store in Atlanta sparked unionization attempts at several other locations. These include two stores in Maryland and Kentucky, where drives to organize are still ongoing.

Staff at the Maryland Apple store, collected under the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (AppleCore) banner, are slated to begin an in-person union election on June 15. If they vote in favour of unionizing, the store will become the first Apple location in the U.S. to unionize.

“In the UK Apple have staff forums, but these are continually shown to be ineffectual and feedback is ignored,” one employee from the Glasgow store said. “It is a one-way conversation. We need our own representatives and a proper voice to change things.”

Store staff have identified low wages, Apple’s active discouragement of pay discussions between employees, and unfair shift patterns as motivators to unionize. The workers said they earn around £12 an hour and plan to demand a raise once they succeed in unionizing.

“People are suffering with the cost-of-living crisis. We need a pay rise, pay transparency and a voice,” the employee added.

“Apple speaks the language of social justice but in practice it is the same story of low pay, unfair shift patterns and lack of respect,” said GMB organizer John Slaven.

According to GMB, the majority of workers at the Glasgow retail store have signed on with the union. What’s more, GMB also claims to have been approached by employees at other Apple stores across the U.K.

An Apple spokesperson parroted the same statement the company has offered in response to other union-related events:

We are fortunate to have incredible retail team members and we deeply value everything they bring to Apple.

We are pleased to offer very strong compensation and benefits, including private healthcare, enhanced parental leaves, paid family leave, annual stock grants and many other benefits for every team member.

In the U.S., Apple increased its overall compensation budget to up starting pay for hourly workers to $22 USD per hour, and also provide raises to salaried employees, to ward off worker unions.